Seahawks’ success means big business for Puget Sound region

South Sound businesses are booming thanks the Seattle's playoff run

Staff writersJanuary 15, 2014 

Twelfth Man cupcakes at a South Sound Safeway. Twelve-cent coffee at a local Starbucks outlet. A Seahawks-blue martini.

Businesses are reacting to the Seahawks run for the Super Bowl, and businesses are profiting because of the team’s prowess.

For example:

* At Party World on Center Street in Tacoma, owner Carole Rockne is desperately trying to secure more merchandise.

“Paper plates, napkins, customers are really chewing at the bit,“ she said Tuesday. “We’re seeing a lot of car flags. If I had a truckload, I could sell it.”

She was working the phone Tuesday trying to fill her orders.

“I know I will have some stock in tomorrow, with more coming in Thursday and Friday. It’s just a matter of getting everything here, whatever the cost. People want anything that has ‘Seattle’ on it. We do have plenty of balloons.”

The only time business was this specifically brisk was in 2006 when the Seahawks earned a slot in the Super Bowl.

“It was crazy back then,” Rockne said. “But this is different. I see more energy going into this particular game. This game has more intensity. There’s more confidence that the Seahawks will go. This is above the frenzy from when they went to the Super Bowl (following the 2005 season).”

Her bottom line, she said, “will probably be triple for this time of year. With the Seahawks involved, we’re able to sell a lot more.”

There’s a similar story in Buckley at the Firehouse Pub, where owner Marnie Hayes says her revenue on game day increases when the Seahawks take the field.

“When they’re winning, my revenue doubles,” she said Tuesday. “Now, everybody cares. I’m expecting incredible revenue numbers. Everybody is in their jerseys, they’ve got their hats. Everybody is so excited.”

What with New Year’s resolutions, January is typically a slow month, she said. Not so this January.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “It’s off the charts, and it’s so much fun. If you’re a small business, this is a big deal. This gets us through the first quarter. It’s just on fire. Your average bar person, or restaurant person, has something to eat or drink, and now you’ve got them sitting in a seat for three hours, and they’re excited and they’re happy. In a small town like Buckley, this a hub. It’s just like one big family room. When the Seahawks win, we’re standing room only. That helps businesses like mine stay afloat.”

* Down the street at Buckley Wine and Spirits, owner BettyJo Rankin says business is likewise up for January.

“People have no idea how this little town benefits from the Seahawks doing well, down to the (employee) who gets an extra hour of work because we’re so busy. In January we usually cut back hours. Now we’re able to have a profitable month.”

* At the Adriatic Grill in Tacoma, owner Monique Trudnowski says she’ll switch on the wide-screen TV for a family-friendly gathering on game day Sunday. The festivities will include a raffle every 15 minutes, and a free appetizer for anyone wearing a Seahawks jersey.

In the bar, bartender Laurie Bretana will be mixing a special “Touchdown-tini,” comprising vodka, triple sec, mottled lemons and Blue Curacao liqueur.

* Meanwhile, the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma will host a party Sunday featuring a burger and hot dog buffet as well as a series of cash giveaways during the game.

Customers will be watching the game on the casino’s 40-foot – yes, 40-foot — big-screen TV.

* Business was more than brisk this week at Tacoma’s Flags A’ Flying flag distributor.

“It’s been busy, crazy and fun,” said owner Kourtney Bailey on Wednesday.

Customers were lined up much of the morning waiting to purchase 12th Man flags, windsocks, Seahawks logo flags and other items. Some products were sold out, and Bailey said she expects deliveries Thursday and Friday to replenish her stock.

She said she has added staff to help with the increased business, and employees were working late into the night Tuesday. The only time she has seen such a volume of demand came immediately following the 9/11 attacks, but this time the customers had a much different attitude.

They’re having fun, she said.

And this week she has also sold a few San Francisco 49ers flags, although the 12th Man flag remains the most popular.

* At Tacoma’s Stadium Thriftway, owner Mike Hargreaves says he will be adding extra staff to meet the demand on Sunday, especially before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff. In fact, he says he has been adding staff on game days since the third or fourth Seahawks game this season.

It’s a busy day for snacks, he said.

* Then there’s the airlines that are courting Seahawks fans, as two rival airlines fighting to dominate passenger traffic at Sea-Tac Airport have taken their battle to the gridiron this season.

The two airlines, SeaTac-based Alaska Airlines, and their new rival, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, are using Seahawks-based promotions to win the loyalty of Western Washington fans.

Alaska and its regional sister airline, Horizon Air, control about half the traffic at Sea-Tac Airport. Delta is number two and rising.

Now the two airlines are engaged in a battle for market share of those domestic fliers, thus the rival efforts to label themselves as the airline with strong hometown roots through affiliation with the winning hometown team.

To cement that Seahawks connection, both airlines have gone to extraordinary effort.

Alaska has anointed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as its “chief football officer,” and Delta has become the “official airline of the Seahawks.”

Wilson has appeared on Alaska’s behalf at several civic events and the quarterback and Alaska have co-sponsored a youth football gathering in which Wilson has given at-risk youth pep talks about the rewards of good behavior and individual effort.

The airline also has sponsored the Seattle quarterback’s every-Tuesday visits to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. Alaska donates 100,000 frequent flier miles to the hospital every time Wilson passes or runs for a touchdown.

The airline has also gotten into the spirit of the playoff season by giving passengers wearing Wilson’s No. 3 jersey in Seattle priority boarding privileges. “We’re giving passengers wearing a Wilson jersey the same boarding priority as our highest level frequent flier members,” said Alaska spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey.

Delta secured the privilege of renaming the club level at CenturyLink Field as the Delta Sky360 Club in a deal with both the Seahawks and the Sounders.

“It is the logical progression from a charter relationship,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice president – Seattle. “We look for opportunities to align ourselves to great organizations, winning organizations. And certainly the Seahawks and Sounders are just that.”

The Seahawks charter Delta aircraft for transportation to away games. Delta provides air transportation to 20 NFL teams.

To celebrate the Seahawks’ playoff status, both airlines are sponsoring contests tied to the playoff games.

Alaska is sponsoring its “12th Fan Rescue” contest during the playoff season. The airline is inviting Seahawks fans who don’t live in the Puget Sound area to submit videos, stories and pictures that demonstrate Seahawks pride in their locale.

The three best entrants and their companions won free airfare, game tickets and hotel accommodations to the New Orleans Saints’ playoff game in Seattle. The airline awarded last week’s prize to a Connecticut music therapist, a Monterey, Calif., naval officer and two men from Boston.

The contest continues this week for the NFC Championship Game.

Delta has created a scavenger hunt-style game in which the locations of kiosks to sign up to enter the contest are posted on Delta’s Twitter page. The grand prize in that contest is a pair of tickets anywhere Delta flies as well as a $500 certificate for Seahawks merchandise and two tickets to next year’s opening game, said Delta spokesman Anthony Black.

Both airlines say they will roll out even more attractive prizes when the Seahawks win a Super Bowl berth.

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